Page 4249 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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people who are able to rent a home, “You can be proud of it.” I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (5.13): I will take this opportunity to speak to this curious amendment. Normally when you move an amendment you back it up with statistics, a few facts or maybe a single fact. Instead we have the John Hargreaves school of real estate sales, where you can own a house in a premium suburb and sell it in another suburb and therefore you might make money. You might not buy just one more house; you might buy two more houses.

Mr Hargreaves, you did not tell us whether or not the government has actually done that. You said, “The short answer is yes.” You then qualified that by saying it is not necessarily so. If the answer is, “Yes” and it is not necessarily so, then what is the answer? I hear that you are going to try to come back and talk to the amended motion, which is fine. Perhaps then, instead of just the babble, the self-praise and the argumentative attitude you have taken, you might address the matter with some substance and some evidence, or perhaps even some proof, that what you are saying is even vaguely true. When Dr Foskey queried the reduction in stock you said that this is not necessarily the case. The simple question is: is it or isn’t it? Have you or have you not reduced the stock? It is not a very hard question to answer. You then gave us the real estate lesson about premium suburbs. Again you said that the answer is yes, but you did not say what yes was the answer to.

If we are going to accept your amendment, which deletes the words, “calls on” and inserts the words, “notes the work of”, you need to give us some indication of the work the government has done. We know there are programs that encourage public housing tenants to purchase their homes. We set some of them up, wherever possible, to move into those markets. Both I and Mr Stefaniak were housing ministers and we know about those programs; they operated when we were in office. We are saying that the government should work on it more and improve the way it is done.

The second part of the motion, where we are meant to note the work of the Stanhope government, is about improving the management of its housing asset base, particularly with regard to the redevelopment or rejuvenation of government owned multiunit complex sites. Again, I do not think the minister even spoke about those sites. If you want us to accept your amendment, let us forget the babbling and self-praise. Give us the substance, give us the evidence and give us the proof. When I was housing minister and I said we would fix MacPherson Court, we did. There were 144 bed-sits—built in the 1950s, obsolete by the 1970s and certainly out of date by the 1990s—when I got there.

We set up a great program where we got the housing tenants out of that substandard place—I think squalor—and, through a very good process, assisted them all into the suburbs they wanted, in the sort of accommodation they wanted to be in, so they would be better off. MacPherson Court later disappeared and we got City Edge. That development has won numerous awards. It should win an award for the process from start to finish, because the community, local residents, the government and ACT Housing all worked together to get a better outcome for everybody. That development sets the standard. I put it to you, minister, that nothing either you or your predecessor, Mr Wood, have done comes anywhere near to matching the comprehensive nature of the redevelopment achieved in the City Edge development. That is the point.

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